we are never ever getting back together GIF

Many of you probably know the story of Jonah, but, in case you don’t, here is the T-Swift inspired recap: God was like “Hey, Jonah go to Nineveh because the people there are sinning and you need to tell them about me.” and Jonah was like that doesn’t sound very “Safe and Sound” so he got on a boat going the opposite direction and God was like “Tell Me Why” and so God sent a storm and, long story short, Jonah got briefly swallowed by a whale that did a 180 and took Jonah back to the original Nineveh plan (and God was like, “Forreal, bro? A whale? Look What You Made Me Do…) Anyway, point is Jonah listened this time and was like, “Hey, Ninevites, Why you gotta be so mean? And a liar? And pathetic? And mean?”  then he was like “You’ve got a blank space, baby, and you should write God’s name.”  And the Ninevites were eventually like, “you right. that was “The Last Time” and now “Everything Has Changed.”  Which brings us to the verse behind today’s devotional….

 

Jonah 3:6-10

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”

 

In this story God shows His never-ending love for all of His people.  Due to the presence of sin in the lives of the Ninevites, they were separated from God.  Instead of being filled with His divine life, they were consumed with things that were chipping away at their spirit.  But, as we know, God is forgiving.  He did not hesitate to show compassion when the people confessed and repented of their sins, but I think this aspect is key.  Though sometimes our relationship with sin is a little bit on-again, off-again, repentance means that we look at our sins and actively strive to end them.  And the Ninevites did not take God’s grace lightly – once they understood the consequences of their sin, they immediately did everything in their power to end their mistakes for good and rebuild their relationship with the Lord.  This story challenged me to examine my own life – to what sins do I often say “I hate you” and “break up” and then the next day I love them again?  How, in my life, do I take God’s grace for granted?  Mistakes happen, but this week, as I realize and ask forgiveness for my sins, I’m praying that that that sin and I are never getting back together — like ever.

We Are Never Getting Back Together (Wednesday)

Vevo music taylor swift vevo shake it off GIF

We actually are getting back together

by Haley Smith

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:23-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Unfortunately humans seem to care a whole lot about the sins you do or don’t commit. If you do, you’re a sinner, if you don’t, you’re a goody goody; or something like that. But in general, God doesn’t care about the specific nature of the sins you commit. He cares about you. Let me explain. He has a lot of suggestions and commands for us in order to keep us on a righteous path. He provides guidelines for us that keep us safe and healthy-emotionally, physically, mentally etc. and it really does hurt him when we disobey one of those commands or stray from the path he hopes for us. But even more than caring about our sin, He cares about what that sin does to us. He hurts when we hurt just as any other parent does when their children stray from what they think is best. When we sin we separate ourselves from God. But the greatest news there ever was-and the reason we adhere to the beliefs we do- is because Jesus gave himself so that we could be reconnected to God despite our sin. So even when we stray, it is never enough for God to turn his back on us.

We Are Never Getting Back Together (Tuesday)

 music miley cyrus hannah montana polkadot GIF

by Hannah Alford

“Everybody makes mistakes” in the wise words of Hannah Montana in her song “Nobody’s Perfect”, but God doesn’t want those mistakes to hold you back, no, instead bring yourself to Lord and realize that every mistake can be a part of God’s path for you. Psalm 119: 25-29 states “I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word. I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law.” By owning up to your missteps and humbling yourself before the Lord, you can begin to understand God’s mercy and understanding. Even Jesus’s disciples made mistakes! Doubt, unfaithfulness, lying, acting against your neighbors; these are all sins, and everyone one of us have committed these. But by realizing them and learning by them, your relationship with God can strengthen. Human’s were made to be imperfect from from Eve first ate the apple, but God still loves us and forgives us, and when we finally begin to learn from our mistakes we begin to learn of God’s glory too!

We Are Never Getting Back Together (Monday)

 we are never ever getting back together GIF

By Ruth Hallstead

Nobody likes to talk or even think about sin. We prefer to talk about love, grace, peace and other warm feelings; yet sin is always there, and we often fall prey to its temptation. In college, far from our parents, it’s easier than ever to fall into bad habits. We no longer have someone watching our every move, and we have more free time than ever before. Friends and roommates might encourage unhealthy behaviors, or it may simply be the devil on our shoulder tempting us. The good news, of course, is that God forgives each and every one of us, no matter what. Despite knowing this, it can still feel pretty awful when we make the same mistake or give in to the same temptation for the umpteenth time.  It’s hard to feel deserving of unconditional forgiveness when we’re stuck in a seemingly unending cycle. How can God possibly take us back again when we clearly can’t be trusted to change? Thankfully (for too many reasons to count), God is not Taylor Swift, and no matter how many times we “say we need space (what?)”, or swear that we’ll change yet only last a day; we are always and forever getting back together with God. He will welcome us back no matter what. Psalm 103.12 reminds us that “as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.” There is no limit to how many times our sins can be removed and He doesn’t care how far we’ve tried to flee from Him. When we give our sins to Him, he takes them so far away that we cannot possibly fathom the distance, and welcomes us back with open arms. We are worthy of forgiveness because God says we are—no questions asked, no limitations, end of story!

Purpose (Friday)

by Olivia Ledbetter

Ephesians 3:14-19

“14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

So often, college feels like a mad scramble to discover what your purpose is. Yikes — what a daunting prospect. I have little panics about once every other week, doubting if I’m doing the right things and if I’m doing them fast enough and well enough. Living between the panics feels so normal for a college student, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s the good news: you are uniquely qualified and valuable exactly where you are right now, even if you don’t know where you’re going. Ephesians talks of a love that surpasses knowledge. Understanding and sharing the love of Christ is more powerful and more important than having it all figured out. Your purpose? To love.

One more reminder: that love extends to yourself too. Have some grace for yourself on this journey. I can forget this self-love so often, and oddly, when I am lacking grace for myself I am also less able to extend it to others. Knowledge of God’s love and laws is important. Knowledge of your own path is helpful. But love? That is something to value even more. Rest in the truth that He knows your heart and your path, even when you feel like you don’t.

Purpose (Thursday)

Sometimes my days start to feel a little monotonous.  Go to class, jump over to work, meetings, homework maybe watch some Netflix with my roommates.  All boring day to day things that are in pursuit of success in the future – a good and important thing.  But, that mindset of future preparedness often makes me forget to ask about the now.  As I was reading Esther for last week’s devo, another part that really struck me was chapter 4 verse 14, where Mordecai says to Esther, “Who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this?”  If you read last week or know the story, you know that Esther’s position happened to be as a queen and that she used it to save the Jews, but if you boil that down to the basics, Esther simply realized that her day-to-day was important in the “now.”  Esther’s purpose was to serve the Lord and though that didn’t play out through her becoming a prophet, God shows us how each and every one of us can play an important role in His story.  So, this week I end with a challenge: look around and ask yourself where has God placed me for “a time such as this?” How can I be more in tune with the plans of the Lord?  He has embedded purpose in every single one of our day to day lives, it’s just after us to go after it.